NewsLinks is a collection of recent news items relating primarily to the California judicial branch. NewsLinks does not verify nor endorse the accuracy or fairness of the news items, and the views expressed in opinions, editorials, and commentaries are those of the writers only.
(Subscription required) According to a budget summary distributed by Newsom's office, the final budget cuts $176.9 million in General Fund support for trial courts and another $23.1 million from the state judiciary. If the state receives "at least $14 billion" in federal support by Oct. 15, all but $50 million of this $200 million reduction would be restored. The money is included as part of SB 74, the 225,000-word budget bill Newsom signed Monday.
“Trial by jury is foundational to our democracy and the cornerstone of our justice system,” said Presiding Judge Michael Lunas. “The court is always appreciative of jurors who fulfill their responsibility to serve on a jury, especially those who will be called on to do so during these uncertain times.”
As of Wednesday, 4,983 inmates in prisons throughout the state had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and 22 inmates have died, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website.
“Right now, we are working with Tulare County Health and Human Services to identify the source of this outbreak,” said Ashley Ritchie, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Department. “We are also checking if other areas of the jail may have been impacted.”
The Oakland City Attorney has sued three landlords for allegedly harassing and trying to illegally evict tenants, escalating concerns that renters still face dislocation and dangerous conditions despite enhanced protections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Subscription required) The Judicial Council is asking for public comment next week on proposed revisions to California's criminal jury instructions, including changes to felony murder liability language and definitions of great bodily injury.
As states around the country reconsider plans to hold a fall bar exam, California’s Supreme Court and state bar will host an online meeting July 7 to hear from law school graduates registered to take the test.
(Subscription required) The Washington Supreme Court suspended licensing of new applicants for its program because of high costs and few participants, according to a letter from the court on June 5. The Washington bar reported in May that the costs for administering the license exceeded revenues by $1.4 million.
(Subscription required) "In the dependency work, it was extremely emotional," Uzcategui explained. "We're talking about people's children, the most important thing in some folks' lives. In unlawful detainer cases, we're talking about ... whether or not they're going to be able to stay in their home and put a roof over their family's head."
The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that states must allow religious schools to participate in programs that provide scholarships to students attending private schools, a decision that opened the door to more public funding of religious education.
Unchanged is the part of the statute, interpreted in Levy, requiring “parties” to stipulate in writing or orally in court for judgment to be entered. What the bill does do is add a provision allowing “the parties or their counsel” to “further stipulate” (emphases added) to the without-prejudice dismissal and to the court’s retention of jurisdiction.
This is the second wave of early releases from California prisons as part of the state’s effort to reduce the population to curb the spread of COVID-19. There have been outbreaks at several prisons, the most severe at San Quentin where there are more than 1,000 cases.
The request would place new judges in courts across the country, including nine on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California and six on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, both of which have seen rising caseloads without any additional judgeships.
In a memo, officials said the policy goes into effect July 6 and is intended to curb COVID-19 infections as the judiciary cautiously reopens across the state. In addition to passing a temperature check, the entry test will also include verbal questions about any recent virus symptoms, positive COVID-19 test results, and travel to states or countries with high infection rates — all before standard magnetometer and X-ray screening.
A California appellate court on Tuesday confirmed that San Francisco officials did not break the law when they allowed a 2018 ballot measure that raised business taxes to fund homelessness services to pass with a simple-majority vote.
The budget cuts $200 million from the state court system, though $150 million could be restored if the federal government sends additional aid by the fall. Further cuts may be necessary if revenues are lower than expected after the extended July 15 deadline for tax payments.
(Subscription required) New cases filed during the superior court shutdowns decreased by about half in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, and slightly in Sacramento County, according to legal analytics company Lex Machina. The report encompasses April and May, when courts significantly scaled back operations.
(Subscription required) While jail populations were reduced to historic lows in many counties, prosecutors and other criminal law experts question whether two months was enough time to draw empirical conclusions about what would happen if voters in November uphold a law that would replace cash bail in California with a risk assessment system. The referendum proposes to block implementation of Senate Bill 10, passed in 2018 but held in abeyance once the initiative qualified for the ballot.
Evictions have been on hold throughout California since the state Judicial Council issued a ban on courts processing “unlawful detainer” cases and foreclosures until 90 days after the governor lifts the current state of emergency. But Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties had a backlog of 1,433 move-out judgments that predated the emergency.
Reuters scoured thousands of state investigative files, disciplinary proceedings and court records from the past dozen years to quantify the personal toll of judicial misconduct. The examination found at least 5,206 people who were directly affected by a judge’s misconduct. The victims cited in disciplinary documents ranged from people who were illegally jailed to those subjected to racist, sexist and other abusive comments from judges in ways that tainted the cases.
(Subscription required) Days after Cormac J. Carney relinquished his post as chief judge over comments he made that were seen as racially insensitive, judges on the nation's largest federal trial court vowed Monday to move beyond the controversy.
A group called United for Diploma Privilege, made up primarily of recent law school graduates that initially aimed its efforts at California, has been leading the charge. The effort got a boost on Monday when law school deans in the Golden State reversed course and endorsed the diploma privilege option over the state’s tentative plans to offer an online exam in September.
A total of 507 Fresno County Jail inmates have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in results released Monday by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. In addition, 25 correctional officers and one court deputy have tested positive.
On Friday evening, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office announced that three inmates and nine custody staff at the Santa Barbara County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing into reality a scenario that civil rights groups and activists have warned could put the lives of inmates and staff at serious risk.
There is a statewide eviction moratorium in place, and many cities and counties across the Bay Area have passed their own renter protections, including Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, San Francisco, Solano and Sonoma. But that hasn’t stopped landlords from pushing ahead with evictions anyhow.